Description

    CSA Texas Brigade - Four War-dated Letters by Robert Gaston and a 1902 CSA Reunion Flag Presented to William Gaston. Four great content letters by Robert Gaston of the 1st Texas Volunteers Infantry Regiment, Company H, totaling 15pp., 4to, all dated during the year 1861. His first letter dated July 21, 1861, writing to his brother George, relays news of his travel to Richmond, Va. In part: "We had no place to sleep, being so thickly crowded & we had nothing to eat but dry crackers & bacon... Billy [brother William] & I have had the best health ever since we started. We had a good deal of sickness in our company before we got to Shreveport... there are 3 or 4,000 soldiers quartered in the same square... We have not yet mustered into any regiment. It is supposed, though, that we will be placed in a regiment of which Wigfall is Colonel... There was a fight at Manassas Junction on the 19th. The Southern troops won a glorious victory, killing near 1000 yankees & losing 142 men... Gen Beauregard, in person, commanded the southern troops & Old Gen Scott those of the north. But our troops met with a disastrous defeat in Northwestern Virginia. About 600 were taken prisoners & I don't know how many were killed. This was caused by their being betrayed by those who live in that region who are all abolitionists. Lincoln has threatened to attack Richmond before long & it is probable that he will, for it is only 80 miles to a part of his army at Manassas. I have seen Old Jeff Davis since we arrived here. He rides around the encampment every evening to look at the soldiers. He says the war will not last longer than 12 months..." Letter is written in pencil, with usual mail folds and a few light foxing spots. In a letter to his parents (on CSA patriotic stationery): "Richmond. Virginia. July 23rd 1861... The great success which has attended the arms of the South in the late battle has inspired every soldier with courage... In the late battle of Manassa [sic] there were not so many troops engaged... Jeff Davis sent a telegraph dispatch to Congress stating that 13,000 of our troops and 35,000 of the enemy were engaged in the battle... Although the Yankees had so much the advantage in number, our troops routed them completely... The dead were strewn for miles and it has been impossible to estimate the number. Jeff Davis commanded the center of our army, Gen. Beauregard, the right wing, and Gen. Johnson the left wing. Beauregard's horse was killed under him. Jeff Davis has come back to this city..." Writing home from "Near Camp Dumfrey, Sep. 27th 1861" he describes the batteries being built for protection, and expresses concern for the situation back home: "... We have heard, through letters from the Californians and New Mexicans that the Governor had ordered that no more troops should leave the state. We would like to be there if Texas is invaded but we think that there are enough of us left at our homes to defend them against any dastardly wretches who may attack them. I think that Texas should anticipate an attack on the Southern coast..." Paper has light dampstaining at margins affecting very little text, otherwise very good. In his last letter included in this small archive, Robert writes from "Camp Quantico Oct. 26th 1861". In part: "There was a battle at Leesburg about four days ago. There were five regiments of our men (near 4000 men) and twelve regiments of the Yankees. The Yankees... were more completely routed that they had ever been before. The battle lasted nearly all day. Finally the Yankees gave way and attempted to cross the river (the Potomac). Our men rushed upon them and besides those who were killed near three hundred were drowned... There were 520 taken prisoners. 6 pieces of artillery were taken & about 1200 stand of small arms. A great many other things, such as provision ammunition & c were taken... We are now in one half mile of the Potomac. WE are placed here to sustain a battery on the river bank about one mile from us... Two weeks ago the Yankee vessels sailed unmolested along the Potomac throwing shells at every man... & now there is a steamer of ours running along the river and throwing bombshells at the Yankee camps... Billy has been elected Captain in Rainey's place... Billy is a great deal sturdier here than he was at home..." Overall near fine condition, with light toning along fold lines of the last page. Robert would be elected a Lieutenant the following year in May. He would die at the Antietam on September 17, 1862.

    Brother William would survive the war and return to Texas and become a successful and influential businessman in Dallas. He is credited with bringing about the transformation of Dallas into a modern urban center of commerce. He is one of the city's first millionaire's, a fortune amassed in the banking industry. In 1886 Gaston donated eighty acres which would become the State Fair of Texas grounds. The CSA reunion flag offered here is said to have been presented to Gaston after flying over Fair grounds during the 1902 encampment reunion held there. The flag measures 124 inches at the fly and 73 inches at the hoist. Gaston's name is written in pencil twice along the bunting. Overall condition of the flag is excellent with bold colors and fully intact stitching along the hems. There are a few tiny mothing holes which are barely visible and mentioned for the sake of accuracy. Construction of the flag is machine stitched as would be expected for the period, with brass grommets. The letters were accompanied by the flag and offer strong provenance for its origin. A wonderful grouping exemplifying the gifts and sacrifices made by the Gaston family for the state of Texas.


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    14th Saturday
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